Board of Trade backs budget, with caution on borrowing

Business group wants Surrey to be careful about building debt

Anita Patil Huberman

The Surrey Board of Trade is supporting the City of Surrey in its recent budget, noting the $200 million in borrowing goes a long way to bringing necessary services to the city.

However, the board wants Surrey to keep its borrowing in check.

On Monday, Surrey council gave final adoption to the 2011-2015 five-year financial plan, which includes the possibility of borrowing up to $194 million over five years. It will help pay for $280 million in projects, including the City Centre Library, a new city hall in Whalley and several other projects.

Alluding to a 10-year-freeze on property taxes, the Surrey Board of Trade (SBOT) said residents are enjoying some of the lowest tax rates in the region.

“Those past decisions have resulted in Surrey being unable to develop or extend or put into place its city core services and amenities as quickly as otherwise would have been achieved by having higher levels of taxation,” the SBOT said in a release Wednesday. “However, the ambitious Build Surrey Program, accelerated to be put in place over a five- to six-year period, will go a great distance to catch up.”

The SBOT believes the city will be able to pay down the $200 million debt in the short term to avoid higher interest rates, but the board cautioned against making a habit out of borrowing.

Pointing to a recent report from the Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB), the board is indicating Surrey should keep its spending sustainable.

“The City has to be careful. The City has to be very mindful of the taxpayer’s ability to pay,” the board of trade says. “The Surrey Board of Trade recommends that this be monitored and managed closely by city council and management, regardless of the relative low taxation levels of our taxpayers. Focusing on sustaining the City’s core services, some long term planning and related actions to manage expenditure growth over the longer term is necessary.”

Surrey Board of Trade CEO Anita Patil Huberman said the board was concerned at first when it saw the amount of debt, but was convinced the city had a solid plan on locking into low interest rates.

“We feel they have a plan, but we’re going to continue monitoring it,” Huberman said.

The board is pleased with how the city is handling crime reduction, noting that last year, the board had been asking for more resources in that area.

This year, Surrey is adding a further $300,000 in crime-reduction measures in this year’s budget, Huberman said.

The board also commended the city on its approach to its economic development strategy, city town centres and beautification, the environment and transportation.

However, the board wants to see more done with the 88 Avenue corridor.

The board of trade has served businesses in Surrey since 1918 and currently has a membership of more than 1,400.

kdiakiw@surreyleader.com

Just Posted

MISSING: Surrey police searching for 71-year-old woman

Patricia Seddon was last seen at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday in the 9200 block of 121 Street

Helping the helpers cope

The MRT has helped almost 7,000 first responders and street workers in 57 communities in B.C.

Completion date for Alex Fraser Bridge improvements pushed to 2019

New traffic lights at Nordel Way and Highway 91 mark the end of phase one of the project

SFN leadership invited to two White Rock summer events

First Nations invitation required for Canada Day, Baldwin says concerts series invite to avoid ‘foofaraw’

From Nairobi to Surrey, mothers form friendship after one is forced to leave a baby behind

Surrey family featured in ‘My Heart in Kenya’ documentary film shown here Wednesday

Canada won’t ‘play politics’ on U.S. migrant children policy

The U.S. government is under fire over its ”zero tolerance” policy

Late goal gives England 2-1 win over Tunisia

At the last World Cup in 2014, England couldn’t even win a game

Canadian military police officer pleads not guilty to sex assault

Sgt. Kevin MacIntyre, 48, entered his plea today at a court martial proceeding in Halifax

Murdered BC woman’s final words, ‘I love you, Mom’

It took 10 years, but Lisa Dudley’s mother finally found out what her daughter said before she passed

Quarter of seafood sold in Metro Vancouver is mislabelled: researchers

Intentional mislabelling can mask concerns about sustainability or human rights

Cheers erupt as Federal Court judge approves historic gay purge settlement

Gay military veterans said they were interrogated, harassed and spied on because of their sexuality

Remains of two people found on Vancouver Island

Officials have not said whether or not the remains belong to two missing men, last seen in Ucluelet in mid-May

Border officials argue B.C. man’s Facebook posts threat to Canada’s security

A B.C. Supreme Court judge acquitted Othman Hamdan of terrorism charges last September

Reena Virk’s mother has died

Both of Virk’s parents became activists against bullying in wake of daughter’s death

Most Read